Reading Marathon: The Typhon Pact... and Beyond!

Discussion in 'Trek Literature' started by Stevil2001, Jun 16, 2017.

  1. Stevil2001

    Stevil2001 Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Are you disagreeing / clarifying something I said? I don't quite get why you brought this up.

    I did think that! Sulu is always running off in a huff to do his own thing. But I suspect The Entropy Effect isn't "in continuity."
     
  2. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    It's one of the books that can be considered part of the loose '80s novel continuity, since elements of it were referenced in other books -- Uhura's Song featured the felinoid security guard "Snarl," and Shadow Lord referenced its version of Sulu's backstory.
     
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  3. tomswift2002

    tomswift2002 Commodore Commodore

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    Stevil2001 you seemed to balk at the fact that the Bajirans could have colonies before the Occupation, and that Starfleet could've made contact with one ('Too small universe'?)
     
  4. Idran

    Idran Commodore Premium Member

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    It's Kirk in particular being the one to do it that caused the balking, not them having colonies at all
     
  5. Stevil2001

    Stevil2001 Vice Admiral Admiral

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    @Idran has it right-- Kirk and the Enterprise being the ones to discover the Bajorans is what I was objecting to. I knew the Bajorans had a preexisting space presence.
     
  6. Stevil2001

    Stevil2001 Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Picking up the pace...

    The Rings of Time by Greg Cox
    Published:
    February 2012
    Time Span: 2020 / 2270 (Stardate 7103.4-7104.2)

    The novel follows two parallel chronological tracks: the first manned mission to Saturn in the far future year of 2020, and the Enterprise coming to the aid of a beleaguered Federation colony 250 years later. The 2270 plotline takes a little while to become interesting, but the 2020 one is pretty good right from the off. I think it pushes belief that a vlogger could smuggle herself onto a NASA mission, but once you accept that, it's a reasonable near-future realistic space story along the lines of The Martian or whatever. There are some obvious connections between the two time periods, with both concerning gas giants with strange hexagonal disturbances at their poles where the rings begins destabilizing.

    The book kicks up a gear at the one-third mark, when Captain Kirk switches places in time with Shaun Geoffrey Christopher, commander of the Lewis & Clark. This is done Quantum Leap-style, so physically, the crews of both ships do not see a difference. I had fun imagining this on screen-- I bet Shatner would be hammy in just the right way as Kirk pretending to be an astronaut. (Though you'd probably also want to imagine Shatner as Christopher pretending to be Kirk, which isn't terribly consistent.) Captain Kirk having to blend in in the past always yield good stuff in Star Trek (e.g., "The City on the Edge of Forever," The Voyage Home), and Cox milks that well here. I laughed when Kirk tries to remember what the computer network of the 21st century was called and comes up with "the Interweb."

    At first I thought it was a little much that there are two female guest characters in this book and they both have the hots for Colonel Christopher, but when the swap happened, I got it. Nothing is quite as good as Captain Kirk being in the dilemma of there being two sexually available women but he doesn't know which one to sleep with because he might destroy the timeline if he makes the wrong choice.

    The plot here is kind of like whatever. It's not bad; it's just a structure to hang time travel hijinks and risky EVAs off of. It's all a bit The Martian like I said, but when Cox wrote this (presumably) in 2011, The Martian was just an above-average self-publishing phenomenon, and probably not on Cox's radar. Cox captures the original Star Trek crew well, and writes brisk action; I breezed through this thing in about two nights and had lots of fun in the process. That the Human Extinction League could have such an effect did seem a little hard to believe, but of course their comeuppance at the hand of the Enterprise crew was pleasing.

    The only thing I didn't like is the revelation of what/who caused the time travel phenomenon, which felt like a cheat and a non-answer.

    Continuity Notes:
    • There are some callbacks to Cox's The Eugenics Wars novels: Christopher was supposed to pilot a DY-100 sleeper ship back in the 1990s, but someone (i.e., Khan and company) stole it from him.
    • Cox also does a good setting this in the early 21st century, blending references to our real world Great Recession with the sanctuary districts of Deep Space Nine's "Past Tense" (set in 2024).
    • I do have one quibble here: the Earth-Saturn probe doesn't feel as significant as Spock made it sound in "Tomorrow Is Yesterday." It's hard to imagine the future of human spaceflight being thrown off course without Colonel Christopher's presence. This should feel as monumental as the Apollo missions! Of course, in the real early 21st century, it's hard to imagine any manned space missions happening at all, alas.
    Other Notes:
    • If I'm not mistaken, The Rings of Time was the second-last original series novel published without "The Original Series" branding on the cover and title page, the last being Dayton Ward's That Which Divides. Allegiance in Exile was actually the first to have it. I'm not a fan.
     
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  7. Jinn

    Jinn Commodore Commodore

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    If you want to get really technical, the Legacy trilogy didn't have the "The Original Series" banner on their covers, so The Rings of Time is actually the fifth last.
     
  8. Stevil2001

    Stevil2001 Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Oh, I didn't notice that. (I haven't bought them yet.) Well, good.
     
  9. Stevil2001

    Stevil2001 Vice Admiral Admiral

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    The Original Series: Elusive Salvation by Dayton Ward
    Published:
    May 2016
    Time Span: 1845-1996 / 2283

    Can't move for all the time travel in this reading marathon so far. Elusive Salvation is a sequel of sorts to From History's Shadow, overlapping somewhat with that book: Wainwright puts in a small appearance, but Mestral and Roberta Lincoln (side characters in From History's Shadow) are the major twentieth-century players here. The 23rd century is more relevant to this novel, too; about two years before The Wrath of Khan (appropriately, I finished reading it about two days before going to see the Fathom 35th-anniversary theatrical release of the film), Admiral Kirk is tasked with helping a group of aliens who appear in the Sol system, search for long-lost exiles from their planet.

    Probably my favorite part of the book is the Star Trek goofiness of it. I mean, upon learning that the aliens' trace vanishes in the twentieth century, Kirk's first instinct is, "Oh, I'll just call my friends who live in the twentieth century and ask if they've seen them." As you do! Unfortunately, like with From History's Shadow, I don't think the book is ever imbued with very much energy. The aliens are too dull to care about, and the narrative-- scattered between lots of time frames and characters-- never really picks up. Like in From History's Shadow, I felt too often characters spent time thinking about interesting things that had happened between chapters instead of in the book I was reading. Or they think a lot about organizational reshuffling!

    So in some ways it's a better book than From History's Shadow, because I think it's more structured and focused: Kirk and Spock actually contribute to the story, and the story is easier to grok. But the first book and The Eugenics Wars largely exhausted the twentieth century's known Star Trek data points, meaning there's not very many fan-pleasing callbacks to weave into this one.

    Of the four original series novels I read for this marathon, The Rings of Time was time was certainly the best. But now it's time to put the twenty-third century behind us and discover the delights of the twenty-fourth!


    Continuity Notes:
    • There are a few different references to The Eugenics Wars novels here. Gary Seven is indisposed throughout most of the book because of secret stuff in India in the 1980s. Additionally, Kirk recalls meeting a much older Gary Seven about fifteen years back, which wasn't happened yet for the Gary who appears in this book.
    • McCoy's relationship with Tonia Barrows from Crucible: Provenance of Shadows is referenced. Dayton Ward spits at your desire to have neatly organized continuity flowcharts.
    • Admiral Nogura is in the book. I had forgot he was around after the Motion Picture era, but Memory Beta indicates he appeared on active duty in some 2280s-set comics and Forged in Fire.
    • The whole time Kirk was interacting with a 1985 Roberta Lincoln, I kept wondering why if they kept in touch up until 1985/2283, why they wouldn't make contact in 1986/2285, during the events of The Voyage Home, but then the book has an epilogue where Roberta observes the H.M.S. Bounty land in San Francisco, and she goes to investigate. That doesn't tell us why she doesn't intervene, though, or why Kirk never mentions her and Gary in the film. (I assume he did, just when the camera wasn't there.)
    • The end establishes that Section 31 goes all the way back to 1996, based on a sublevel of the Pentagon where the U.S. co-ordinated its anti-extraterrestrial defense efforts. Not really sure what I think of this; I'll be curious to see if the twenty-fourth-century Section 31 novels pick up on this or not. (No spoilers, buds.)
    Other Notes:
    • Kirk reflects on the Department of Temporal Investigations: "After the numerous bizarre run-ins he and the Enterprise had experienced with time-related oddities, he would be disappointed to find out no one had been recording such incidents for posterity. Maybe it'll all make for a good book or two someday." Oho, I see what you did there, Dayton.
    • Note that on pp. 184-85 it sounds like Kirk has never actually met a DTI agent, but that on p. 354 he mentions running into them a few times over the years. Mid-book timeline change? Or incompletely implemented revision to account for the events of Forgotten History? (which I will get to in due course)
    • No joke is so much a groaner that you can't make it twice: Roberta thinks about her and Gary's interactions with Khan's creators: "I could write a book about the trouble some of these people have given us. Maybe two."
    • Spock says "booger."
     
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  10. Thrawn

    Thrawn Rear Admiral Premium Member

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    I'm enjoying reading your reviews. Keep it up.
     
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  11. Stevil2001

    Stevil2001 Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Thanks! I have to finish two books I'm working on now (Alfred Bester's The Stars My Destination and the Calvin and Hobbes tenth anniversary volume), and then I'll start Rise Like Lions.
     
  12. Jinn

    Jinn Commodore Commodore

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    I gotta admit i really liked the "I could write a book or two about that" jokes...
     
  13. Stevil2001

    Stevil2001 Vice Admiral Admiral

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    It was the kind of groaning you do when you hear a really bad pun. You're groaning at yourself for enjoying it.
     
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  14. Jinn

    Jinn Commodore Commodore

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    Usually I'm the one doing the pun :D
     
  15. Stevil2001

    Stevil2001 Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Mirror Universe: Rise Like Lions by David Mack
    Published:
    December 2011
    Time Span: 2377-81

    "Mirror, Mirror" is good fun, but I never really warmed to the Mirror Universe episodes of Deep Space Nine. "Crossover" is decent and I will admit to enjoying the inanity of "The Emperor's New Cloak," but outside of that, they tend to range from dull to inexplicable (i.e., "Resurrection"). Deep Space Nine shifted too far from the core premise of the Mirror Universe, I think, which is pretty simple: Our Heroes Are Evil. "Crossover" got this but it overcomplicated things to get there, with an elaborate backstory about the fallen Terran Empire and the Klingon/Cardassian Alliance, blah blah blah. Who cares? I just want to see women with bare midriffs, Vulcans with beards, and liberal use of the agony booth. Diane Duane got this when she wrote Dark Mirror: it's deliciously, delightfully dark. But the set-up of the DS9 MU episodes positions most of Our Heroes as good guys for some reason? And makes the Klingons and Cardassians-- the "bad guys" of our universe-- the bad guys there too! Like, why? And then the whole century of Actual History kind of misses the point. I don't need a convincing explanation, I need Evil Federation.

    The Deep Space Nine Mirror Universe thus falls into an uncanny valley: not ridiculous enough to enjoy, but too ridiculous to take seriously. On screen, it kind of muddles through thanks to the fact that the actors are clearly enjoying playing these broad versions of themselves, but lacking a Mirror Universe where Our Heroes Are Evil, what we mostly seem to actually get is Our Heroes Are Dumb Thugs.

    All of this is to say that I have been tepid on prose takes on the DS9 MU, and initially planned to not read Rise Like Lions at all even though I liked David Mack's The Sorrows of Empire okay, but then I found out it tied into the Destiny Era novels somehow (no spoilers, folks), and so here I am. This novel picks up from, well, everything: all the 24th-century stories in the three S&S Mirror Universe anthologies are brought together, along with the masterplan introduced in Mack's Sorrows of Empire. So we have mirror O'Brien, mirror Keiko, mirror Dukat, mirror Damar, mirror Worf, mirror Picard, mirror Troi, mirror Klag, mirror Kes, mirror Neelix (because you demanded it!), mirror Calhoun, mirror Jellico, and so many more, surely a cast of thousands if there ever was one.

    The problem is that I just don't care about any of them. Minus the liveliness of an actor's performance, most of them are just selfish people doing dumb things. The ones who are supposed to have ruled galactic empires do not convince, coming across as squabbling, short-sighted idiots. The book has so many characters that none of them have any kind of dramatic arc; the book ping-pongs between all these different people, giving each a chapter every now and again, but like the other Star Trek historical epics I've read recently, it often seems like the focus is misplaced. Like, Damar commits genocide against the Vulcans and this is relayed to us in introspective narration about past events! Meanwhile I'm reading about yet another argument between Klingons.

    Once you get the lay of the book, it all unfolds pretty predictably: the Klingons and the Cardassians squabble among themselves, and the new Memory Omega-backed Terran Resistance picks up the pieces. (Memory Omega's super-tech removes a lot of suspense.) I found there weren't really any surprises, and there wasn't really any reason to care about these people. How awful people learn to run a democratic society is a potentially interesting question, but all that happens off-stage too.

    Somehow, I guess, this will end up factoring into the Prime Universe, but I can't say I'm excited to find out how.

    Continuity Notes:
    • The end hints at more Mirror Universe stories to come involving the Dominion, but this was the last volume of what evolved into a five-book series.
    • There's some stuff that picks up from the end of the last two Deep Space Nine relaunch novels, Fearful Symmetry and The Soul Key. It turns out I really don't remember what happened in them.

    Other Notes:
    • I know it's not Mack's fault, but why doesn't mirror Tuvok have a beard? This is just further proof of how much Deep Space Nine misjudged the Mirror Universe. Even the producers of Enterprise got that one right.
    • I'm sure he's shown up in other tie-ins before, but it was a little surprising to me when the mirror Dukat showed up. The show never did him. I wonder why? Marc Alaimo as Dukat as an Actual Good Guy would have been delicious (though I have my doubts that the show would have gone that way).
    • Picard (who I seem to recall from Glass Empires was a lowly independent space archaeologist) is for some reason picked by Memory Omega to run the entire Terran Rebellion. No one really justifies this; I can only assume Memory Omega had watched TNG and so knew he was the captain character.
    • There's a chapter called "Peaceable Kingdom"; as soon as I saw that I recognized it as the title of a Dayton Ward novel and thought, "Well it must be a song by Rush then." I was right.

    Like I said at the beginning, I'm doing these in spurts of five, so I'll be taking a break to read some other books and then picking back up with the actual Typhon Pact books. Not that I've been rocketing through thus far!
     
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  16. DS9forever

    DS9forever Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    The DS9 MU characters weren't evil fascists like the TOS & ENT alternate characters.
     
  17. JD

    JD Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    I think the idea in the DS9 MU episodes was that instead of the Federation being the big, powerful galactic power, it's members were now the least powerful people in the universe. So it was still a flip, just instead of good/evil, it was major galactic power/conquered slaves.

    Picard was brought into the Rebellion by one of the Troi sisters at the end of The Worst of Both Worlds, so by the time we get to Rise Like Lions he'd already been playing a pretty significant role in the Rebellion for several years.
     
  18. Jarvisimo

    Jarvisimo Captain Captain

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    Jan 4, 2011
    Ha, I've actually met a person who did this! And a friend is considering this for visa reasons (and also providing space in which to be paid to write a second/third book).
     
  19. Idran

    Idran Commodore Premium Member

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    Honestly, I've got one, and if I lived in a post-scarcity semi-utopia like the Federation where I didn't have to worry about money or whatnot, I'd definitely be tempted to go for a second. :p
     
  20. Stevil2001

    Stevil2001 Vice Admiral Admiral

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    That makes sense, and I like that, but maintaining the good/evil axis confuses things: like Sisko and many other humans are awful people. I'd be more into admirable underdogs, maybe?

    Wow I don't remember the earlier books at all I guess.
    I have no desire to go for a second-- but I feel like that kind of desire would typically come along much later. Use that first doctorate first! There was an ecology prof at my old school who got a second Ph.D. in philosophy (of science), actually, just because he got interested in it. It's the back-to-back doctorates that stretch credulity. And using it as a shorthand for intelligence: Ph.D.s are more testaments to your ability to work sustainedly than anything else.
     
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